Last Saturday afternoon I spent a couple of hours at Hiroshima's Diamond City Soleil.
Advertising itself as the biggest shopping mall in western Japan and Shikoku, a title also claimed by Shimonoseki's Sea Mall, it actually changed it's name last year to Aeon Mall Hiroshimafuchu Soleil, but everyone still refers to it as Diamond City.
Built on the site of a former Kirin Beer factory, and opened in 2004, this cathedral of consumption offers more than 65,000 sq. metres of retail space spread over three floors purveying all manner of goods and services in 200 establishments.
Personally, I don't much like shopping, in fact I hate shopping, tending more to the freegan end of the consumption scale, but for those who enjoy shopping, and that seems to be most Japanese, there is a wide enough range of stores and products for sale to satisfy the most avid shopaholic.
As well as shops there is an 11-screen movie theater, a huge games-center cum pachinko parlor, and a large variety of eating establishments.
Even though it was a Saturday, it didn't feel crowded or hectic. The only money I spent was in Freshness Burger, an almost empty burger joint that has authentic burgers and decent fries. A few metres away people were standing in lines to purchase McDonald's inferior products.
The Kirin Beer connection manifests itself in the large smokestack sculpture in front of the main entrance, an information desk (with help in English) made out of a big copper brewing vat, and the Kirin Beer Park, a beer garden-restauarant-park that serves, not surprisingly, only Kirin beers. Across from the entrance is a small Kirin brewery that offers guided tours and explanations of the beer making process.
Diamond City Soleil
Tenjingawa JR station (one stop east of Hiroshima station)
Over 4,000 free parking spaces.
2-1-1 Fuchu Town
Tel: 082 561 0001
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Tuesday, June 10, 2008